Can authority change through deliberative politics? Lessons from the four decades of participatory forest policy reform in Nepal

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Based on the review of relevant literature, this paper investigates howforest authority is produced or reproduced in the course of forest policy change, by drawing on the past four decades of participatory forest policy reform in Nepal. We analyze various waves of deliberative politics that emerged in different contexts related to the Himalayan crisis, the flow of international aid for conservation and development projects, civil conflict and democratic transition, and most recently the policy responses to climate change. The analysis shows how such deliberative politics contributed to the change or continuity of conventional authorities around forest policy and practice. It shows that despite notable participatory policy reform, the conventional authority has become further re-entrenched. Based on this analysis, we argue that efforts to understand forest policy change can be moremeaningful if attention is paid towhether and howdeliberative politicsemerge to challenge the hegemonic claims to power and knowledge about resource governance practices. Such approach to policy analysis can open newpossibilities for understanding democratic policy reformby explicating the nuances of deliberation and policy politics occurring at multiple scales.

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